Jeannette Tuitele-Lewis, President/CEO
Jeannette Tuitele-Lewis became BSLT's President and CEO in October of 2014. Prior to coming to BSLT, she worked for Sierra Foothill Conservancy for five years as executive director, following three years as development and outreach director. During her tenure, the organization doubled its operations capacity, reached a milestone of 25,000 acres of conserved lands, and became Land Trust Alliance accredited.
Born in California, Jeannette split much of her youth between the West Coast and the Pacific Islands. Her earliest outdoor memories include long days at the beach while living on Guam. Her teen years were spent exploring the oak woodlands of California's Solano County. These experiences sparked a lifelong passion for land conservation and the study of the relationship between land and people.
Upon graduating from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa with a botany degree, Jeannette worked in the American Samoan Islands for the Community and Natural Resources Division. There she documented medicinal uses of plants by traditional healers, worked with local farmers to promote non-timber forest products, and coordinated village tree plantings in areas devastated by recent hurricanes. She received her master's degree in forest science from Oregon State University, where her studies integrated ecological analysis, agroforestry, and land tenure systems. Following graduate school, Jeannette worked as a forest science technician, collecting data on old growth forests across the Pacific Northwest.
Jeannette serves on the board of the California Council of Land Trusts and on the national Leadership Council of the Land Trust Alliance. She is also an alumnus of the Center for Whole Communities. She spends her free time exploring coastal lands with her husband, Jamie, and their two young children, Amaelia and Malae. She also maintains her Pacific Island connections and occasionally advises on projects in the region.
Peter Eigen, Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer
Peter began his tenure as Big Sur Land Trust’s COO/CFO in January of 2023. Prior to joining BSLT, Peter served the Central Minnesota Educational Research and Development Council, for 21 years as the Executive Director and the Director of Sourcing. During his tenure he helped the multi-million-dollar non-profit educational service provider to nearly double in size through implementation of both organizational and business unit strategic plans. He led the strategic acquisition of other organizations and intellectual property, while establishing strong business partnerships creating additional value to the members of the non-profit. Prior to his work supporting educational markets, Peter spent 10 years working in manufacturing where he held positions in both production management and supply chain management, supporting manufacturing facilities in Minnesota, Missouri, and Mexico.
Peter comes to Big Sur Land Trust with a life-long passion for the outdoors. Born and raised in Minnesota with an acute awareness of the importance to preserve and protect natural habitats, Peter’s earliest and fondest memories as a young child involve lying in a harvested cornfield with his father, listening to the whistle of mallard wings overhead during the break of dawn. The outdoor experiences and values that he was raised with continue to guide and fuel his passion to create more open spaces, protected by strong legal and science-based conservation practices, that will last for generations to come. These childhood memories spurred a long relationship with conservation organizations like Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever. During this time, he served as the Ducks Unlimited State of Minnesota Public Policy Chair to advocate for strategic fee title land acquisition and critical habitat enhancement project initiatives. He also led a team of local volunteers to deliver fundraising opportunities and major donor identification to support habitat conservation. In thinking about the future of habitat conservation, Peter also provided opportunities for youth to get involved.
Peter holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Studies from St. Cloud State University in St Cloud, Minnesota. In his free time, he enjoys kayaking, fishing, snowboarding, and wandering grasslands with his wife Charlene and Napa, their black lab.
Guille Barbosa, Executive Projects Manager
In search of meaning in her career, Guille Barbosa began her tenure with Big Sur Land Trust in June 2012 as Executive Assistant to the President/CEO and Board Liaison. Her position has since evolved, and she currently provides support to the Development and Communications/Community Engagement Departments, both of which she enjoys participating in and learning from.
Previously, Guille, who is fluent in Spanish, worked for seven years as executive assistant to the senior vice president and general manager of Entravision Communications Corporation (also know as Univision Spanish Network). Plus, she hosted a short morning segment on KSMS-TV, the regional Spanish media, interviewing local politicians, business owners, and nonprofits. Although being in front of the camera was not her niche, she was grateful for the opportunity to interact with the Central Coast community. She hopes her efforts in the communications and community engagement department at the Big Sur Land Trust enable her to reach out to the Latino community, connect with them, and convey to them the needs and benefits of the outdoors.
Guille is a lifelong resident of Salinas. Although she considered living in other areas, "the weather and beauty of the Central Coast always called out to me," she says. Guille is very involved in her son's soccer games and personal development. They enjoy being outdoors together every weekend, participating in soccer activities, hiking, or boogie boarding. Guille especially appreciates jogging on trails and watching her son experience an active outdoor life.
Guille is a graduate of North Salinas High School, Prairie State College in Illinois, and the University of Phoenix. She hopes to return to school one day to pursue an MBA degree.
Burke Boynton, Donor Relations Coordinator
Burke joined Big Sur Land Trust in 2023, bringing his deeply rooted connections to the community, vast knowledge of Monterey County’s open spaces, and a passion for connecting all people with nature. Prior to working for BSLT, Burke was a Brand Manager for several local businesses, including his own company Boynton Surfboards which he continues to operate. He is experienced in highly specific aesthetic design and branding. Attending California College of the Arts in 2010, Burke had a mixed major focusing on the power of iconography in business and political messaging. These studies provided him with a unique and creative perspective that continues to influence and guide him. Additionally, he has worked collaboratively with many local organizations across Monterey County and beyond with a focus on positive community relations, equity of outdoor access, and environmental consciousness.
Growing up on the Monterey Peninsula, Burke spent his formative years exploring coastal California. Through hiking, backpacking, travel and surf exploration, he gained fundamental knowledge of and deep appreciation for the natural world. Burke’s love for the outdoors has motivated him to become a lifelong advocate for the protection and preservation of these special places. He currently resides in Pacific Grove with his wife Sara and their two children, Pfeiffer and Wilder.
Eva Boynton, Youth Outdoor Programs Field Lead
Eva Boynton joined Big Sur Land Trust in June 2022. Growing up in the Monterey Bay area, Eva developed a strong love and appreciation for nature. Eva earned a BA in environmental anthropology and visual art at Evergreen State College in Washington. She has traveled throughout Europe, Mexico, New Zealand, and Peru pursuing her passion for adventure, culture, art, and the environment. Experiences like hiking in the Himalayas, studying in the Peruvian Amazon, and cycling more than 3,000 miles over two years from Monterey to Guatemala with a surfboard in tow have inspired her to pursue a career in the outdoors.
As an outdoor educator, Eva has worked as a trip leader for wilderness backpack expeditions as well as afterschool experiential programs such as surfing, hiking, and stewardship. She has also assisted in developing surfing and outdoor components for leadership programs. She believes that connecting with oneself, others, and the environment is a critical skill and opportunity everybody should have. Eva is also an illustrator and artist, and loves to integrate art and outdoor adventures. One of her favorite things to do is help others to get curious about their environment and try something new!
Nicole Chrislock, Natural Resource Program Manager
Born and raised in Pacific Grove, Nicole is a second-generation Monterey Peninsula resident. She graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a B.S. in Biology concentrating in Plant Ecology, and a B.A. in Liberal Studies. While working at the Cal Poly Organic Farm, Nicole’s love of botany and ecology expanded to an interest in sustainability, food production and systems, and food justice. Upon graduation, Nicole became involved with Communities for Sustainable Monterey County channeling her passion for food security and community building into assisting in the development of the Pacific Grove Adult School Community Garden.
After college, Nicole worked as a substitute teacher for Pacific Grove Unified School District. She also worked for the City of Monterey, interned for the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History education program, volunteered for the Ecological Farming Association’s annual Eco Farm Conference, and worked at several local plant nurseries. In 2013, she began working for California State Parks Natural Resources, where among many other duties she conducted invasive plant mapping and removal and propagated and installed native plants during restoration efforts.
In 2017, Nicole began working as an ecologist for Jodi McGraw Consulting. Nicole designed and implemented habitat management and restoration projects, conducted biological assessments and surveys, and helped to restore, enhance, manage, and monitor preserves and other conservation lands. She conducted vegetation characterization mapping, rare and exotic plant species surveys, endangered insect surveys, and participated in the design and implementation of vegetation management and fuel reduction efforts.
Nicole moved back to Monterey County and began working for Big Sur Land Trust in late 2022. She brings with her a love for the abundant natural resources, history, cultural heritage, beauty, and diversity of the region. She has a strong desire to build community, inspire and empower others, and carry out BSLT’s mission to protect local lands and ensure equal access to open space. During her free time, she enjoys researching local history, getting outdoors and exploring the area’s hills and beaches, gardening, listening to old-time radio shows, knitting, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.
Jim Cox, Glen Deven Ranch Caretaker
Jim Cox has been caretaker and manager of Glen Deven Ranch for more than 30 years. He was instrumental in forming Big Sur's volunteer Mid-Coast Fire Brigade and served on it for 24 years (15 of them as chief or assistant chief), handling fires, medical emergencies, and rescues year-round on the Big Sur coast. In 1998, he was voted Volunteer Fire Fighter of the Year by the Monterey County Fire Chief's Association.
Sarah Digness, Institutional Giving Manager
Sarah brings more than 15 years experience in grant writing and nonprofit development to her role at Big Sur Land Trust. As a consultant, she worked to support the missions of health, human service, recreation, and conservation groups throughout California. Her passion is helping people gain access to the resources they need to experience health, quality of life, and personal empowerment. Previous to nonprofit development, she was an award-winning high school English teacher in Northern California. Currently, she serves on the Friends of Carmel Unified Schools board of directors.
Sarah spent her early youth in a fishing subsistence community on the northern Oregon coast. Her father worked with local agencies to create a salmon fishery on their property, and family time was spent running rivers and trails. Throughout Sarah’s life, she has felt a sense of belonging to wild places. It is her belief that spending time outdoors provides perspective and vitality, and that access to open space is a human need and right. She lives in Carmel Valley with her family, is a voracious reader, and enjoys simple things like homemade meals, classic country music, and good swimming holes.
Todd Farrington, Director of Community Programs
Todd joined Big Sur Land Trust in 2007. He has served in many different capacities, including as operations and events manager, community affairs manager and creative producer — along with designing and managing BSLT’s Youth Outdoor Programs since their inception in 2013.
Todd firmly believes the health of nature and the health of our human communities are intertwined. Over the years he has sought to connect people of all ages to BSLT conserved lands and beyond through facilitating a wide range of experiences — from intimate guided hikes though ancient redwood forests to community-wide festivals celebrating urban open spaces.
Todd serves on the Board of the Carmel Valley Chamber of Commerce and volunteers with the Carmel Valley Kiwanis Club. He also spent several seasons volunteering with the Monterey Jazz Festival as the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra chaperone or as the festival’s lead volunteer coordinator.
When Todd isn’t volunteering in his community, exploring the deep woods alone or with new friends he’s exploring the depths of his imagination with pen and paper in hand, and trying very hard not to be the next worst short story writer on the Monterey Peninsula.
Beth joined Big Sur Land Trust in 2019 as Conservation Projects Manager. She previously spent eight years at the John Muir Land Trust as Stewardship Manager where she was responsible for stewardship of fee title and easement properties, managing public access and restoration projects, grant writing and promoting environmental education on the land. Most recently she spent seven years with the CSU COAST program working with hundreds of faculty and students at 23 CSU campuses to promote marine and coastal science through research and education funding programs. She received her MS in Coastal and Watershed Science and Policy from CSU Monterey Bay and BA from UC Santa Barbara in Environmental Studies.
Beth lives in Pacific Grove with her husband Jesse and their two children, Jameson and Maggie. Beth enjoys spending time outdoors with her family gardening, camping and walking on the beach.
Nick Gil, Youth Outdoor Programs Administrator
Nick first became involved with Big Sur Land Trust in 2022 as an intern for the Youth Outdoor Program’s summer overnight camps. After witnessing how strongly his personal and professional values aligned with BSLT’s mission, Nick accepted a full-time staff position as the Youth Outdoor Program’s Administrator in September of 2022.
Born in Chile, and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Nick grew up in a Spanish-speaking immigrant household with limited opportunities to connect with nature. Thanks to a trip to Chile in 2017, Nick discovered his love for nature. This led him to obtain his B.A. in Environmental Studies at Humboldt State University, and later his M.A. in International Environmental Policy at the Middlebury Institute of Intenational Studies at Monterey. Through his work, Nick strives to facilitate connections between local youth and the beautiful natural landscapes that Big Sur Land Trust stewards, in hopes of helping guide our community's future land stewards.
In and outside of the office, Nick is an energetic, caring, and optimistic person who likes putting smiles on the faces of those around him. Although he grew up primarily playing soccer, Nick also enjoys playing basketball, volleyball, biking, ultimate frisbee, tennis, table tennis, and hiking in his free time.
Hadley Hargrove, Preserve Manager
Hadley comes to BSLT from the University of California Natural Reserve System where he lived at and cared for Landels-Hill Big Creek Preserve. He grew up on a wool and mohair ranch in West Texas helping to manage 80,000 acres and 10,000 head of sheep and goats with his father and brother. After high school Hadley lived in Mexico ranching and perfecting his Spanish. His life at sea began when he joined the Hawaiian Chieftain, an educational vessel voyaging from Santa Cruz, CA to Port Antonio, Jamaica. After 13 years, Hadley’s yearning for land grew too strong to resist. The broad range of skills and colorful experiences he gathered before joining our stewardship team are true examples of “doing what you love.” Now he is using his many talents while living at and navigating the demands of caring for Mitteldorf Preserve. Hadley invites you to slow down and say “Hi” whenever you’re there and see what fun projects he has going!
Jenny Jacox, Engagement Lead
Jenny joined Big Sur Land Trust as Engagement Lead in July 2022. A community manager with a background in research science, Jenny earned both her BS (Marine Biology) and PhD (Ocean Sciences) at UC Santa Cruz.
Born and raised in Albany, California, Jenny grew up exploring coastal Marin County and asking questions about its offshore waters. After earning her PhD, Jenny worked as a California Sea Grant Fellow and on staff at the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. Jenny relocated to Monterey in 2014, devoting time to raising a young family and to her volunteering with Coastwalk California, the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation, and on the board of the San Francisco Microscopical Society. Inspired to give back ‘to the lands she loves’ before returning to the workforce, Jenny joined Big Sur Land Trust as an AmeriCorps Volunteer Infrastructure Program fellow in August 2021. During her 11-month appointment, Jenny developed Big Sur Land Trust’s volunteer program infrastructure for increased capacity and efficacy, and expanded other engagement programming. As Engagement Lead, Jenny provides organization-wide infrastructure and program support and development, and works to enhance Big Sur Land Trust’s community of staff, donors, volunteers, and external partners.
Jenny thrives on empowering and exciting others by revealing things unseen, from connections and synergies to beauty in the world. Insatiable curiosity and a love of exploration fuel her love of ultrarunning and oceanography. She splits her time between Monterey, coastal Marin County, and Boulder, Colorado with her husband, Mike Jacox (NOAA research oceanographer), and their two young children.
Alex Kalish, Stewardship Project Manager
Alex joined Big Sur Land Trust in November 2021 as Stewardship Project Manager. He grew up in California, often visiting his grandma and aunt in Carmel Valley and Monterey, and eventually landed here himself while attending MIIS to study International Environmental Policy and Ocean & Coastal Resource Management. He is an action-oriented environmental professional bringing a range of different perspectives and experiences into this work. Alex's most recent work was as an Environmental Management Advisor in Peace Corps Jamaica, where he supported efforts in climate smart agriculture, organic farming, and permaculture. He has performed wetlands monitoring on a mitigation project out of the UC Santa Barbara Marine Science Institute, spending eight hours a day in a wetsuit. Alex also brings a range of practical skills from work in farming, carpentry, and woodshops. In his free time, he can be found surfing up and down the coast, hiking, or making music.
Kate Mitchell Mehle, CFRE Director of Development
Kate Mitchell Mehle joined Big Sur Land Trust as Director of Development in May 2015, bringing with her nine years of experience at United Way Monterey County. In that time, she rose to become United Way's fundraising team leader and raised nearly $28 million for the county.
A native East Coaster, Kate grew up in New Jersey, developing her love of nature at Bear Mountain and the Palisades Park. At Penn State University, she earned a bachelor's degree in marketing and minored in women's studies. Upon graduation, Kate moved to Boston to join a media-buying firm that served clients such as WGBH, Jordan's Furniture, Cracker Barrel, and Comcast. Eventually she left marketing and advertising to follow her dream of working in the nonprofit sector.
Kate expanded her knowledge of nonprofit management by participating in Community Foundation for Monterey County's LEAD (Leadership Education and Development Institute) program and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). She has volunteered in leadership roles with organizations such as the Junior League of Monterey County, Parenting Connection for Monterey County and International School of Monterey. She is also member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Monterey Bay Chapter.
Kate lives in Monterey with her husband, Matt, and their two young children. Her favorite pastimes include taking her boys hiking or camping. Kate's favorite hike is the Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall Trails at Yosemite National Park.
Deidre Monroe, Land Acquisitions Manager
Deidre joined Big Sur Land Trust in August of 2022. She manages all land transactions and is responsible for implementing acquisitions in alignment with the organization’s strategic plan, as well as supporting broader conservation and stewardship projects.
She earned her BS in Conservation, Fish, and Wildlife Biology from UC Davis before spending half a year in Sitka, AK where she fell in love with coastal living. Later, she headed to Truckee, CA to work for the Truckee River Watershed Council. Most recently, Deidre worked as the Conservation Projects Manager for Shasta Land Trust in Redding, CA specializing in conservation easement transactions, grant writing, and stewardship work.
A Sacramento native, Deidre grew up visiting the central coast regularly and is excited that she can now call the Monterey region her home. She spends her free time at the beach with her dog, Bindi, hiking and backpacking the many trails of Monterey County, painting, or skiing in the Sierras in the winter.
Tonalla Renteria, Cultural Research Intern
Tonalla has been working on the Monterey County Indigenous and Racial Minority Land Loss Timeline project. She began by focusing on Indigenous land loss using first perspective narratives from California Native Americans as the groundwork for historical context. Then she proceeded to analyze educational databases looking at Spanish and Mexican land grant distribution within the local area. In addition to local Indigenous history, Tonalla continued to look at racial minorities affected by land loss, including African Americans, Chinese, and Japanese. (BSLT’s board member Larry Oda provided great resources for local Japanese history!) The final project is a functional digitized timeline, a document of historical images and their references, and a slide presentation that summarizes the project’s process and findings. Tonalla is looking forward to presenting this timeline of the unique history of land loss and allocation in Monterey County.
Tracy Rhoades, Operations Manager
Tracy Rhoades began working at Big Sur Land Trust in 2011 as Administration Assistant. It was not long, however, before she became the Office Manager. She oversees the operations of the Hartnell office and provides assistance and support to BSLT's philanthropy, communications, stewardship, and conservation departments.
Tracy brings years of customer service, sales, marketing, and administrative experience to the organization. After graduating from California State University, Northridge with a journalism degree, she began a professional career in software sales and customer service for a major software company. She later worked as production manager for a weekly newspaper and then as an online coordinator at a daily paper. But it was during her years working with her husband, Rob, at a small Internet company that she truly enjoyed running the daily operations of an office.
Big Sur Land Trust introduced Tracy to land-conservation efforts and the nonprofit sector. She feels honored to be working for such an amazing organization.
Tracy was raised in Southern California. Her parents encouraged the family to get outside and enjoy nature. They spent their summers camping in Yosemite National Park and vacationing in Carmel, where they eventually moved to and where Tracy attended high school. In their new home, the family took day trips to Pfeiffer State Park and Point Lobos. In fact, her mother was a docent at Point Lobos for years. It is BSLT's passion for preserved lands that makes working at the Trust so special for Tracy.
She loves spending weekends outdoors, either playing tennis with her son or hiking with her family. Tracy also enjoys reading and learning new Web and computer programs.
Patrick Riparetti, Director of Stewardship
Patrick manages the Land Trust's annual easement-monitoring program, implements restoration projects, generates maps, and cares for the ecological assets, facilities, and infrastructure of Big Sur Land Trust properties throughout the county. He was drawn to BSLT's initiatives to responsibly manage conserved land, to restore impaired environments and ecological processes, and to provide tangible benefits for the community.
As a graduate of the University of Montana's Wildland Restoration Program, Patrick spent the previous five years working on ecological restoration and species recovery. He was a fisheries technician for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, where he mapped and analyzed habitat, monitored populations, and performed rescues for the Southern California steelhead. As a biological consultant and restoration practitioner, he also worked to remove invasive species, improve habitat, and protect sensitive species in both California and Montana and in the Patagonia region of South America. Patrick strives to create and be a part of meaningful projects that balance community values and scientific strength.
Patrick grew up in Utah, Washington state, and California and spent his youth adventuring in the outdoors on backpacking, river-running, and surf trips. His love for wild places and desire to share his experience with others led him to become a Grand Canyon river guide. As is often the case when pursuing the outdoors, Patrick developed a strong sense of responsibility to learn ways in which we can best conserve and manage special landscapes.
Rachel Saunders, Director of Conservation
Rachel Saunders has more than 30 years of experience promoting the conservation of Central California's coastal and marine environments through science, policy, communications, and community engagement. Her passion for the outdoors and commitment to conservation was seeded as a child, exploring the backwoods of rural North Carolina and the tide pools of Southern California. She joined the Land Trust in 2007 as Director of Communications and Community Affairs, drawn to BSLT because of its strategic organizational changes aimed at expanding its reach and impact and ensuring that all communities have the opportunity to reconnect with the natural world. In 2012, she began a transition to BSLT's conservation work and assumed her present role in 2014. Her work at the Big Sur Land Trust is both strategic and tactical, moving from high level planning to on-the-ground implementation.
Prior to joining BSLT, Rachel served as community and public relations coordinator for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. She was also planning director for Camp Sea Lab (a nonprofit children's ocean-science education camp) and was field office director for the Ocean Conservancy, a national ocean-conservation organization, where she led successful campaigns to establish national marine sanctuaries at both Monterey Bay and the Olympic Coast.
Rachel has an master's degree in natural resources policy and management from the University of Michigan and a bachelor's in environmental science from the State University of New York. She was a founder of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation and serves on its board of directors. Rachel has received numerous awards for environmental leadership and community service, including a national Environmental Hero Award in 1999 from Vice President Al Gore and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Rachel loves tennis, hiking, and watching movies. She adores her pup, Molly, who ensures that Rachel gets outside daily.
Jose Carlos Navarro Solis, Development Coordinator
Jose Carlos “JC” joined the Development Team as a development coordinator in 2019. JC brings years of media production, business administration and marketing experience.
Born in the Coachella Valley to Mexican parents, JC moved to Mexico State, where he lived the first 15 years of his life. College of the Desert sparked his enthusiasm about our role in the sustainability of the planet. It wasn’t until JC earned a Master’s degree in International Environmental Policy at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) in Monterey that he firmly planted his feet in the field of environmental conservation.
JC enjoys wildlife photography, leading a healthy lifestyle, having close encounters with animals and spending time with friends. He also likes to try new things and to go on all kinds of adventures. His happy places are playing sports, biking up a hill, playing on top of boulders and taking high leaps with the help of the waves of the ocean. He believes in cycles and in the balance of life. Be considerate. Love now.
Barbara Utter, Financial Controller
Barb joined Big Sur Land Trust in October 2022. Originally, she worked at the Monterey Bay Aquarium as a Marine Biologist. While she has swum with sharks and fed otters, her main interest at the Aquarium was kelp. She focused on Phycology (the study of algae) and habitat aquascaping for 23 years. Her love of math and desire to organize chaos drove her to change careers and become a CPA.
Barb has a BS and MS in Biology from Stanford University and an MS in Accounting from Saint Mary's College of California. She loves hiking, biking, swimming, and climbing in Monterey County. She also has a passion for boating rivers and tries to spend a week every summer boating a western scenic river. In 2019, she co-founded and is the current Scoutmaster of BSA Scout troop 2090. This troop was the first girls' BSA scout troop in Monterey County. She lives on the Monterey Peninsula with her husband and three children.
Jennifer Vasquez, Conservation Program Assistant
Jennifer first became involved with Big Sur Land Trust in the summer of 2013 as an outdoor camp participant at Glen Deven ranch. In 2015, she took on a role as Junior Counselor. Jennifer continued her involvement with BSLT at camps while attending UC Santa Barbara. Upon completing a Bachelor of Science in Aquatic Biology in March 2019, she joined Big Sur Land Trust as the Conservation Program Assistant.
Jennifer developed an interest in conservation work during her time as a teen volunteer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium where she developed a passion for the oceans and a sense of stewardship. She also developed and honed her interpretation skills through guest engagement and serving as youth leader for summer programs.
Throughout her time spent at Glen Deven ranch, Jennifer developed a deep sense of place within Big Sur, expanding her interest in conservation to include both lands and oceans. Jennifer is passionate about community engagement and raising awareness about outdoor experiences and the many benefits that come along with them. Big Sur Land Trust’s mission deeply resonates with Jennifer, and she looks forward to helping further its impact, especially in underserved communities.
Natalie Vaughn, Land Steward
Natalie joined Big Sur Land Trust as Land Steward in 2022. Her roles and responsibilities involve conserving, restoring, and caring for the lands we love through a variety of stewardship programs such as easement monitoring, invasive species management, and volunteer outreach and engagement.
Natalie, a Southern California native, moved to the Central Coast to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from California State University, Monterey Bay, where she gained valuable skills in performing fieldwork and conducting scientific research. During this time, she fell in love with the area and grew a strong appreciation for the community’s commitment to conserving and restoring the sensitive habitats they live in.
After graduating, she spent 10.5 months monitoring steelhead trout populations on the Big Sur River, completing a term of national service with the Watershed Stewards Program—a program by the California Conservation Corps and AmeriCorps.
Her passion for the outdoors continues to grow as she spends time connecting with the community and exploring the wonders of the local, vast open lands through trail running, backpacking, and rock climbing. She is inspired more than ever by the community's love for these lands and looks forward to stewarding them.
Sharon Wyatt, Development Database Administrator
Sharon joined the development team in early 2022 as our first Data Development Coordinator. With a Master’s in Database Administration, she brings unique skills and perspectives, along with her enthusiasm for the mission and people of Big Sur Land Trust. Her love of the outdoors is matched only by her love of coding.
Sharon came to us from the world of logistics and supply chain management, having worked most recently with the Defense Commissaries Agency. Her prior experience spans a wide breadth of sectors and industries, from Aircraft Maintenance to elementary education and literacy intervention. After traveling the world for twelve years, in 2017, she and her family decided to call Monterey their home.
She developed her love of land and sea at an early age while hiking and swimming in Guam. Sharon has prior experience in conservation as an Americorp Volunteer, and through her time as an educator at an environmental charter school.
When she is not huddling behind her computer, muttering to herself, you can find her paddling outrigger canoes up and down the California Coast. She and her family race with Ke Kai O’Uhane, a local cultural non-profit where she also serves on the board.
Carla Zilliox, Communications Manager
After consulting with Big Sur Land Trust on messaging and media relations, Carla Zilliox joined our team as Communications Manager in May 2016. As she learned more about our mission, she jumped at the chance to become part of the organization and help tell our continually evolving story.
A native Californian, Carla grew up in San Jose, spending many weekends backpacking and hiking in Big Sur, Santa Cruz and Lake Tahoe. After receiving a bachelor's degree in English from UC Berkeley, Carla pursued a career in advertising, marketing and communications throughout Silicon Valley. Wanting more balance in their family life, she and her husband, Kent, moved to Carmel Valley while their sons were still in elementary school. After the move, Carla established a marketing communications consulting practice; her varied client list included Cisco, HP and The Santa Lucia Preserve.
Carla has volunteered with a number of local organizations including Community Partnership for Youth, the Carmel Valley Kiwanis, Carmel Valley High School Site Council and served as the communications committee chairperson for Impact Monterey County.
She knows first-hand the powerful influence that our local landscapes have on our well-being. Her sons, Quinn and Lucas, have immersed themselves in the outdoors and these experiences continue to positively define their priorities.
Special thanks to Dawn May Photography